Commerce Place was a joint venture between a private developer acting on behalf of
the Authority and the Housing Authority of the City of Decatur through its non-profit
Decatur Housing Development Corporation. The land was owned by the Housing Authority
and was remaining parcels from an old Urban Renewal program, one of which was adjacent
to Decatur’s family public housing. The Housing Authority contributed the land and
the developer oversaw the development, acted as the general contractor, and marketed
the townhomes for a fee.
Those eligible for the affordable units were employees of the City of Decatur
on a first come, first served basis. An early information package was distributed
to all city employees including school teachers, firemen, policemen and all other
payroll employees. Income was restricted to $59,900 maximum per household and the
Purchaser had to be a first time homebuyer. The Housing Authority reduced the sales
price on 4 units to $117,500 and 1 unit to $140,000 (a larger unit) for a total price
reduction of $304,000. In addition, the Authority reduced the sales price on 6 additional
units for 1st time homebuyers by a total of $90,000. The price reduction was in
the form of a soft second mortgage at zero interest rate. Each year that the homeowner
occupies the unit as their primary residence, 20% of the principal amount of the
soft second mortgage principal was forgiven. Thus if the owner lived in the unit,
as their primary residence, for five consecutive years, the soft second mortgage
was totally forgiven and the owner earned a sizeable equity position.
The Authority’s goal of 25% of the units being sold to public employees was
achieved with the sale of five (5) townhomes to four (4) school teachers and one
(1) police officer. The reduced prices were absorbed in the total development cost
resulting in a bottom line net revenue of approximately $50,000 for the Authority.
Commerce Place Townhomes was a Magnolia Award Winner.